5 Things You Should Be Doing For Higher, Faster Jumps
Jumping might seem like something you're either a natural at or that you'll never master. "She's a jumper," you might hear someone say about another dancer with a beautiful grand jeté—and assume, in turn, that you're not. But how high you leap—and how quickly and easily you do it—is actually a skill that you can build with practice.
Think of barre as preparation for jumps in center, says Endalyn Taylor, ballet teacher at the University of Illinois. It's all about the "articulation and dexterity of the feet," she says, "how they go into and off the ground, from the heel to the ball of the foot to the toes."
Start articulating your feet at barre to prepare for jumps in center.
Check the landing.
Standing in front of a full-length mirror in parallel, with toes and hips square to the front, do a plié while standing on one leg. Repeat 10 times, making sure the working knee isn't veering out or in. "The most important thing in a jump is a safe landing," says physical therapist Emily Sandow, who works at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health. "You need perfect alignment: a supported turnout or parallel, with the knee and toe tracking in the same position."
Syncopate your plié.
Jumping higher can get tricky with petit allégro, as you might feel like you don't have the time to take the plié you need at a fast tempo. "It becomes about the timing and phrasing of your plié," says Taylor. By designating half a beat, or the "and" count before a beat, for your plié, you're making time for the necessary prep for your jump—without losing the rhythm. "It's not about lessening the plié," says Taylor—you're just doing it with different timing.
Use your resources wisely.
Tracie Stanfield, a contemporary teacher at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, will take her students to the stairwell and have them stand in first position on the step just above the landing. "I have them do a tiny sauté to the landing, trying to land as slowly as they can, really rolling through the foot," she says. "Everyone might stare, but it's a good exercise."
Try jumping in a pool.
Angelo Pantazis via Unsplash
Give gravity a break.
Use a pool, trampoline or Pilates machine with a jump board to unload the body of its full weight but still work on the repetition, technique and volume of jumps.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.